Customs Dazzled, but L.A. Auto Show Featured Outdoor and Family Fun Vehicles

It’s been a few years since I have visited the auto show and it was hard to know what to expect at the ancestral home of the California Car Culture universe. So when three of us decided to venture downtown to the Convention Center to check it out I was filled with anticipation.

This annual event is one of the largest car shows in the country and in past years it has featured something for just about everyone. For 2023 the show encompassed several halls and levels and was billed as 760,000 square feet of (mostly) shiny newness. That’s 17.44 acres of exhibition space, so good walking shoes were a must! There was so much to see we’ve divided our coverage into two separate posts. This is Part I.

Our first stop was the lower level Garage Hall filled with customs and older collectibles. Several venerable Lincolns were among the cars displayed. Amazing custom metal work and paint were true expressions of the eye of the builder. Also there was a fascinating display of mini vehicles and some objects that simply defy description. See below.

Upstairs in the main South Hall one of the largest displays was sponsored by Korean car maker Hyundai. Besides their familiar, but updated Sonata sedans, their exhibit featured several SUV models, a comfortable customer lounge and even an indoor demonstration track with EVs.

A nearby, but separate display showcased Hyundai’s luxury Genesis G70, G80 and top-of-the-line G90 examples. This separate line continues to grow in both market share and prestige.

The roof line of the white G90 below had an unmistakable resemblance to the late model Lincoln Continentals of recent years and left us wondering what the 2024 Continentals would look like…if Lincoln still offered them.

And speaking of Lincoln, our favorite brand was absent at the Convention Center, except for a few older customs and a new Nautilus that was part of the Galpin display. In fact, other luxury brands including Cadillac, Audi, Mercedes, BMW and Chrysler were also among the missing, while the Lexus exhibit was underplayed. However, a snazzy new matte finish Lexus LC 500 convertible drew admiring glances.

Not to be outdone by Lexus, a brand new extra sexy Corvette was exhibited. After a 70-year run that began in 1953 it is hard to imagine what this iconic vehicle has not offered, but every year seems to bring new features and more eye candy.

One of the show highlights was Subaru’s display which featured real plants for that authentic outdoor feel and a “snow” covered ski car perched on an uphill angle. An IMAX-look projection that covered not only vertical surface, but also the floor put spectators into the middle of the action. A wrecked Subaru vehicle was part of a display touting the brand’s safety features and longevity.

Subaru’s SUVs sported expandable tents and other camping accessories that are reminiscent of the VW campers of the 1970s that were kind of “out there” back then, but definitely mainstream in the 2020s. In fact, the family outdoor lifestyle vehicle was the primary theme of the 2023 L.A. Auto show.

Next: Nissan and Ford with new twists on classic nameplates and the Galpin family of cars.

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